Adding Edible Flowers to Your Salads (and Garden)

Growing flowers you can eat adds an extra element of surprise in your garden, offering up an opportunity to harvest more food. Edible flowers add color, flavor, and beauty to homegrown salads and other dishes.

Another reason to grow flowers in your garden? They’re great for pollinators!

Originally published in September 2015; this post has been updated.

round cookie topped with purple edible flowers.

Imagine eating flowers in a salad of spring greens with raspberry vinaigrette. Or think of biting into a petal of chive blossom with its sweet-spicy flavor, along with a juicy, slightly bitter, baby romaine leaf.

Provided that you follow a few safety rules, edible flowers can make an ordinary dish remarkable. Fresh flowers are usually eaten raw or used as a garnish.

salad in a white bowl with edible flowersGrowing Edible Flowers in your Garden

There are a surprising number of garden flowers you can eat, and many are probably recognizable to you. The flowers that you tuck into planters to beautify your patio, or plant around the edges to attract pollinators and hummingbirds may also be the next addition to your dinner salad.

Let’s highlight a few of the edible flowers you can grow in your garden. (For a longer printable list, go here.)

african blue basil


We all recognize basil leaves as the base for pesto, but growing basil in your garden means you’ll have spicy little basil flowers to add to salads. Tuck basil plants into your garden near tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant to increase their yield.

lavender flowers you can eat


Commonly used in beauty and bath products, this fragrant herb puts out beautiful flowers that will make your garden shine. Lavender prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Add edible lavender flowers to sweets and drinks for a unique flavor. Read more about growing lavender here.


So easy to grow that their bright orange and yellow blooms are often visible on roadsides, nasturtium flower petals are edible, as is the entire plant. Nasturtium seeds can be used to make what are often called “poor man’s capers.” Use nasturtium leaves to make a foraged version of dolmades.

Oregano Flowers

Culinary oregano is great in an herb garden, but this popular herb is also beautiful in your perennial and annual flower beds. Plant it in full sun where it will have good drainage and enjoy adding oregano flowers to your meals.

edible nasturtium leaves in a garden planter with marigold flower

Pansies and Violas

These pretty flowers you can eat are a summer annual and a staple for seasonal flower pots. They prefer cooler weather, making them good for early spring color and fall plantings. Add pansies, violas, or Johnny Jump Ups to salads or press their pretty faces into shortbread cookies.


A bright and cheery perennial flower, primroses prefer a somewhat shaded spot in your garden. These, too, are good additions to patio planters. Primrose flowers are edible and can add a pretty touch to cakes and desserts when crystallized. Here’s how.

zucchini squash blossoms in a box

Squash Blossoms

When we grow squash like zucchini or crookneck in our gardens, we’re usually counting on them to produce fruit. But squash blossoms are edible, too. They can be added to salads or stuffed and batter fried.

Go here for a printable list of 29 edible flowers you can add to your garden.

Eating Flowers Safely

  • While a great many flowers are edible, not all are, so make a positive identification before you bite — be sure you know which flowers you can eat!
  • Grow your edible flowers in your own organic garden where you know they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and where they are sheltered from vehicle exhaust.
  • Many flowers have a bitter calyx. Separate the petals and pinch off the bitter white base of each one, using only the fragrant petals for food.
  • Avoid using the pistil and stamen, the sexual parts of the flower. In many flowers, the pollen can cause allergies. Some exceptions are pansies, Johnny jump-ups, scarlet runner beans, clover, and chive blossoms.

clover blossoms on green foliage: flowers you can eat

Prepare Edible Flowers in the Morning

  • Pick flowers in the morning while the moisture content is highest.
  • Wash flowers by dipping in cold water before use. This will dislodge any insects and dust.
  • To store edible flowers put them between layers of damp paper towel, inside a sealed container. They will keep several days, up to a week this way. If you prefer to avoid paper waste, use light cotton handkerchiefs, dampened, in place of the paper towels.

drinks garnished with edible lavender and lemon slices.

How to Eat Flowers

Use pansies, Johnny jump-ups, and scarlet runner bean blossoms whole. Use just the petals of roses, nasturtiums, and apple blossoms. For flowers like chives and clover, separate the individual flowers from the ball-shaped flower head.

  • Sprinkle edible flowers on top of green salads just before serving.
  • Use flowers with a sweet flavor to add character to fruit salads.
  • Freeze flowers and flower buds in ice cubes for pretty summertime drinks.
  • Sprinkle lavender flowers on vanilla ice cream for a flavor twist.
  • Garnish chicken and fish dishes with savory flowers like oregano and sage.

chive blossoms

Add fragrant flowers to vinegar or oil and infuse them to capture their seasonal flavors and aroma. Then use the oil and vinegar to dress your salad. Spicy chive blossoms, dill or fennel flowers, anise hyssop flowers, or other zesty petals make the best infused vinegar. [Here’s how to make infused vinegar.]

The rule for the perfect salad dressing is three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice. Use this as a basis for your homemade dressing.

Floral flavors like lavender and rose petals are more suited to sweeter infusions of honey or sugar. Use rose infused honey in iced tea to accompany your salad, but leave it out of the dressing. [Grow Rosa Rugosa Roses for Food and MedicineOn the other hand, too many strongly flavored petals can overpower.

Use floral petals sparingly for color and just a hint of flavor, in your baby lettuce mix. A light sprinkle of flowers has a more dramatic effect than an invasion of color and spice.

Flowers You Can Eat 

Print this handy chart for your fridge or garden notebook.

It will help you get the right mix of flavors; some flower petals have a slightly sweet flavor, other flowers taste peppery, and still others have a bit of a citrus flavor. 

list of flowers you can eat and how to use them

Click to save or share!

About the author: Chris is the author of The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms, and More. She is a teacher, author, gardener, and community herbalist with 30+ years of growing herbs and formulating herbal remedies, skin care products, soaps, and candles.

8 comments… add one
  • Shirley Golden Apr 24, 2022 @ 3:24

    Nice to learn about edible flowers….can’t wait to try them…thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    • AttainableSustainable Apr 26, 2022 @ 7:00

      You’re welcome, enjoy those tasty edible flowers! 🙂

  • Kim Drusch Apr 11, 2022 @ 4:20

    What a wonderful article! I was just thinking about making spring rolls with edible flowers and your article popped up. Awesome timing! Love your knowledge base and appreciate you taking the time to post!

    • AttainableSustainable Apr 12, 2022 @ 6:11

      Thank you! Enjoy your edible flowers! 🙂

  • Farming Method Mar 13, 2020 @ 11:13

    Some flower is edible. Primrose is one of my favorite.

  • Sarah Feb 29, 2020 @ 5:56

    This year I plan to add more flowers to the garden to help attract more pollinators, so this is really helpful information so I can not only grow flowers but add plenty of edible ones as well. I had no idea pansies were edible. I grow them every year, so I will have to make a point of harvesting some of the flowers this year.

  • ZELDA LEE HOOVER Feb 27, 2020 @ 3:52

    So glad to have found you!!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 3, 2020 @ 8:07

      Glad you made your way here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *